What I loved most about growing up in Rainworth, was my mate Rusty

Barry Osborne

photoRusty was not even my dog, he was my sister’s dog. My sister received 10 shillings from her grandmother for passing scholarship and decided she was going to buy a dog and Mum & Dad agreed. (I wanted a horse after my scholarship but it didn't happen). So off to the dog refuge they went, and there they found this black & tan dog that followed them around by walking on its hind legs with front legs on the wall with a constant smile on its face. He won her heart and came home and entered my life. This must have been about 1955.

Rusty was a mongrel (not derogatory just not well bred) dog, Border Collie cross, but to me he was like the Prince of Thieves in the movies; a lovable rogue and a real character. We became inseparable when growing up in Rainworth. Where I went so did Rusty. I made not have had many friends, but he was my first best mate, and I have had many more since, nearly all animals. Maybe that is why I became a VET as I was a bit of a loner and loved the company of my animal mates. But we became a regular sight around Rainworth, me riding my bike and Rusty running behind. There were occasions when I would try to sneak out without Rusty and I would be up the street only to look back to my home to see Rusty busting out of the yard, sniffing over the ground until he found my scent and then he was after me.

The Friendship became a little strained when I would get into trouble by him being with me.

This was the case when he would follow me to school. Most times he would simply leave once I went into class (or I would be instructed to take him home) and then he would go wandering over our territory alone. He loved church and would sleep under my chair until he would make his presence known and I would have to take him outside. But when he was alone he often got into mischief like jumping a 6 foot fence to get at a pedigree Afghan Hound and getting her pregnant. The owners were not impressed and my parents were told so by the dog owners. In those days, breeders thought that if pedigree dogs were mated with mongrel dogs, it would do permanent damage. But it sure didn’t worry Rusty. This was Rusty’s territory.

Then there was the occasion where some children knocked on our door and when my mother opened the door found the children had Rusty on a lead. Rusty on a lead, he didn’t know what a lead was. It was like me having shoes on, never. The children had come from way up in Bardon and the mother had told them that if they had a dog follow them, they would have to return him to his home. Little did they know that Rusty always knew where he was and would always find home when he got hungry.

We both loved the bush, but to Rusty’s detriment.

Growing up in Rainworth, meant running around the bush in Mt Coot-tha, or the top side of Gerler Street where much bush was in those days. But one day we found Rusty not being able to stand up on the lino floor. Every time he tried to get to his feet, his legs would splay apart. We rushed him to the local Vet and found that he had picked up a Paralysis Tick. We nearly lost Rusty that time, but he came through. This wasn't the first tick strike, he had another one about 12 months later, which was a lot milder this time, and I would not have been surprised if he had many more, because now he had developed immunity against the venom. We could have produced serum from him, as now his blood was literally worth bottling.

His affiliation to ticks developed more.

In my last year of High School, my family and I and of course, Rusty moved to Townsville. We lived at Belgian Gardens in the same street that led to the cemetery and beyond that was Happy Valley where many Aboriginal families and many a dog lived. It did not take long for Rusty on his travels to come across the path of these dogs. He went missing for a couple of days and returned only by crawling on his belly. The neighbours said it took him nearly 20 minutes to crawl across the road. When I found him on the side of the road, his hair was matted, pieces were out of him, and he had the biggest collection of ticks you could ever imagine. I washed him down so I could see his skin, bathed his wounds and in the cool under our house I sat with tweezers in hand and started plucking off the ticks. By the time I finished I had a Vegemite bottle full of ticks.

Rusty eventually recovered and was able once again to go walking on my long walks along the beach to Cape Pallarenda. But early in the piece, I had to worry about Rusty particularly in the hot sun, as he could not finish the walk and I would have to carry him home. Worse thing for me was that he was not a small dog. Rusty stayed in Townsville until I returned to Brisbane to attend UQ for my second year in Vet Science. Rusty and I set up house in my parents Boundary Road home. I was not the best of company for poor old Rusty at that time because, if I wasn't at university for long hours, I was studying and getting very little sleep. But he was getting older and would just love to be around like a good friend. He did develop a friend with an old friend of ours Wendy Loseby. Rusty would visit her regularly and when I went to Townsville to see my parents, he would stay with her.

Eventually, I think Rusty gave me up as a lost cause as I was too sedentary for him and Wendy and her husband adopted him which was so wonderful for Rusty.

 What was amazing is that Rusty lived a very long life (see below, very old). We believed he was around 20 years old when he passed away. But in my mind he never died, he has lived with me for my whole life as that free spirit within me and became a part of my later business life. Thanks so much Rusty for the terrific memories we made together in Growing up in Rainworth, you were a real mate. Why not register on the right hand side and tell your stories, don't let them die.

Old fella is probably saying here "get that cat out of my ear, don't you know black cats are unlucky?"